The highly sought after PWA Constructors Championship title, which represents the pinnacle of windsurfing development and manufacture, is hotting up as the 2010 season unfolds. Currently the four times Constructors Champions (board brands), Starboard are out in front, leading both the slalom and freestyle categories. And, North are fighting hard to stay ahead of former Constructors Champions, NeilPryde. However, this could all change in a matter of days with the upcoming contest in Fuerteventura almost upon us…
Helping Starboard to rack up the points in the slalom discipline are sailors such as many times world champion, Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard, Severne), the PWA's president, Jimmy Diaz (Starboard, North), flying Frenchman, Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard, North), and the rising star, Alice Arutkin (Starboard, North).
In freestyle, three times world champion, Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard, Vandal) has been claiming plenty of points for the team, as have the Bonairean crew of Kiri Thode (Starboard, Gaastra) and Taty Frans (Starboard, MauiSails), along with the likes of Canadian Philip Soltysiak (Starboard, Dakine), and French styler, Nicolas Akgazciyan (Starboard, Gun).
At the recent wave contest in Pozo many times world champion, Daida Ruano Moreno (Starboard, Severne) and her twin sister Iballa (Starboard, Severne) helped the team to claim some much needed points. As did the 2009 Pozo Champion, Philip Koster (Starboard, NeilPryde, Dakine).
We took the opportunity to quiz Tiesda You (Starboard's brand manager) about their current position at the top.
PWA: How does it feel to be in the lead at this moment in time?
TY: “It's amazing news. The PWA is the most prestigious tour in Windsurfing and to be leading the constructors again at this stage of the year is fantastic. Behind Starboard, there are hundreds of windsurfers from around the world - people who race, who ride waves, who are constantly developing new shapes, new technologies, and testing them all year round, day in and day out – so the PWA’s Constructors trophy is above everything the realisation of this joint effort.”
PWA: After four years out in front, are you taking a back seat, or are you all still as fired up as ever to win the title again?
TY: “Always as fired up as ever! What is important, however, is not the winning in itself. We’ll continue to stay focused on developing the best boards and have the best team possible, both to race and to develop the technology behind the boards. It’s what we’ve always set out to do and that’s what we’re most fired up about. If we do that part well, the Constructor’s title will take care of itself.”
PWA: Who do you think your biggest assets to the team are for the title race this year?
TY: “A very good question. Taty, Kevin Pritchard (Starboard, Dakine, Gaastra), Philip K., the Moussilmani brothers, the Moreno sisters, Bjorn D. and Bjorn Saragoza (Starboard, HotSails), Kiri, Alice, Sarah-Quita, Steve Allen (Starboard, Severne), Morane Demont (Starboard, Severne), Nicolas, Philip S. – everyone is contributing valuable points so it’s always a team effort. A point is a point. Last year’s close race shows that everyone’s efforts are critical to the title race.
Behind the scenes are the key R&D crew: Remi Vila, Sven Akerboom, Scott McKercher and Svein Rasmussen – these are the guys who make the difference between boards that win or lose. Another very big asset for the 2010 Constructors race is also the Severne R&D efforts of last year. Many of our riders are racing on Severne’s new Reflex sails and those sails are just so fast. With these new engines, we're definitely adding another big asset to our side.”
PWA: Which other teams are you keeping a close eye on? JP almost stole the show last year...
TY: “It sure was close! That was very exciting and it’s very motivating for the future. We won’t keep too close an eye on anyone though, we let the title take care of itself. It’s important for us to stay focused on board development and we want to continue to grow the sport further into the future, hence our big push into longboards and light wind windsurfing the last four years.”
PWA: What direction is the company taking for the future?
TY: “We’d like to maintain our course: “to offer the best possible products that will help as many people enjoy windsurfing in as many places and as often as possible”, as the official mantra goes... On a more emotional level, Windsurfing is above all else a wonderful and beautiful sport. There’s nothing more inspiring than to share it with people who are close to us - friends and family. We hope to see the PWA support our movement towards longboards and light wind windsurfing, which is a totally different windsurfing experience with a huge mass-market appeal. Together, through a joint effort of not just individuals but also organisations such as the PWA, the media, and other manufacturers, we can share windsurfing through friends and families, through light wind windsurfing. We’ve just launched our Starboard Friends and Family program last Monday and we have a new range of crossover SUPers to go with it. I’ve devoted, so far, 60% of my life to windsurfing since the day I shaped my first board - as the future unfolds, this will grow to 70%, 80%... With the right ideas, it’ll be great to see windsurfing grow into a mainstream fashion sport, and that will remain the ultimate focus.”
Helping North to achieve their current position at the top of the sail brand rankings are Moussilmani, Diaz, and Arutkin in the slalom discipline. Three times world champion, Jose 'Gollito' Estredo (Fanatic, North), Laure Treboux (Fanatic, North), Yoli De Brendt (Fanatic, North), and Four Dimension's director, Andre Paskowski (Fanatic, North) in freestyle. And, more recently in the waves four times Pozo champion, Victor Fernandez (Fanatic, North, MFC), and former freestyle world champion come wave title hunter, Marcillio 'Brawzinho' Browne (Fanatic, North, MFC).
We caught up with Raoul Jao (North Sails product manager) to see what he thought of North leading the way.
PWA: How does it feel to be leading the constructor's championship at this moment in time?
RJ: “Actually this hits me by complete surprise as we massively reduced our team at the end of last year, and this is the first I’ve heard of it! However, it’s a very welcome surprise.”
PWA: Who do you think your biggest assets to the team are for the title race this year? And, what are they doing differently to last year?
RJ: “They’re just the same guys that have been the driving force behind North Sails over the years. Which includes our chief sail designer, Kai Hopf, and our main team of riders who have been involved with the sail testing. In freestyle we have Gollito, Yoli, Andre, and Laure. In waves Victor, and Brawzinho. And, in slalom Cyril, Jimmy, Patrik Diethelm (Patrik, North), and Alice. Last but not least, we also have Peter Slate who is our main tester on Maui. We’ve not been doing anything differently, it’s simply been ‘business as usual’ which means working as hard as we can.”
PWA: What direction is the company taking for the future?
RJ: “We will try as hard as we can to remain the most innovative windsurf brand, and try to give our team riders a technological advantage. And we’ll combine this with a state of the art visual appearance which makes for a very competitive package.”
To find out how the rest of the brands are doing, be sure to check out the 2010 Constructors Championship table by clicking HERE.